What Social Commerce Means for Manufacturers

Between the pressures of social commerce, impending legislation and overall supply chain instability, companies and their connected supply chain networks are juggling a growing number of considerations.

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Thanks to social media ads, influencer partnerships and in-app shopping experiences, social commerce is enjoying unprecedented success. Considering Hootsuite survey data revealed that the average person spends two hours and 28 minutes a day on social media, it comes as no surprise that individuals are using some of that time to get their shopping done.

Social commerce is the practice of using social media platforms to sell products, a booming industry that is slated to generate nearly $3 billion within the next three years. Businesses have leveraged features like Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops, as well as shoppable posts on platforms like TikTok and Pinterest, to turn social media content into sales.

The fashion industry has benefitted as much as any sector from the rise in social commerce. Clothing trends are even born out of social media content, making it a prime candidate for social shoppers. But, like most businesses in today’s commercial landscape, fashion brands have endured the challenges of supply chain instability  some of which have been looming for years, as a byproduct of fast fashion.

Many of these concerns around supply chain instability have been further amplified with regulatory legislation like the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act and the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act on the horizon. As such, supply chain visibility has been pushed to the forefront of the fashion and apparel industries.  

Let’s explore the state of the evolving supply chain, how it is impacting fashion manufacturing and what can be done to ensure the integrity of e-commerce systems amid the social commerce boom.

Swipe to shop

Gen Z is aging and becoming independent consumers, creating a new generational market driven by digital and social media sales. The eldest members of this generation have graduated, entered the workforce and are making their own purchasing decisions. These decisions can be heavily influenced by social media, which is most frequented by Gen Z, closely followed by Millennials. 

Thanks to increased exposure through social media, and commerce giants like Amazon granting more access to smaller brands, the fashion landscape has grown particularly competitive. Consumers have more options than ever, which means brands are continually feeling the pressure to evolve and release new products that align with the latest trends. 

This competition, however, has only exacerbated existing supply chain instability stemming from the pandemic and fast fashion production. Setbacks like sourcing bottlenecks, global logistics logjams, cost pressures and cyberattacks have all limited the ability to get products to consumers and match their increasing demand.

Industry under the microscope

Aside from growing competition in the fashion marketplace and rabid consumer demand fed by social media, the fashion industry is facing pushback in the form of governmental involvement. The FABRIC Act, America's first federal fashion bill, was drafted to improve the labor rights of garment workers and buoy the American garment manufacturing industry after decades of offshoring.

An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the bill was officially introduced to Congress in May 2022 and has since been referred to the Committee on Finance. Should the legislation be enacted, the Department of Labor would establish a national garment industry registry to promote transparency and implement new requirements to incentivize responsible manufacturing practices and production.

In New York state, the drafted Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act requires fashion companies that generate more than $100M revenue to disclose their supply chains across all production tiers and where in that process they create the most impact. 

Legislation of this nature has major implications for the fashion industry, with responsibility falling on individual brands to map their supply chains and maintain visibility over their manufacturers.

Keeping your guard up

With social media dominating commerce for the foreseeable future, and impending legislation mandating transparency in manufacturing processes, supply chain visibility is more critical than ever. Businesses need to be equipped to monitor their supply chain networks and gain a full picture of their e-commerce landscape. 

This visibility is necessary to detect flaws before they create bottlenecks and to efficiently manage and remediate issues when they do arise. With a full picture of connected supply chains, businesses are better equipped to translate vulnerabilities into business risk and understand where threats may lie in regard to security issues, compliance or audit findings.

This also allows organizations to gain actionable guidance and act quickly on issues that pose the greatest risk to supply chains. Businesses cannot protect environments that they do not fully understand, and they certainly cannot remediate issues of which they are not aware.

Thinking ahead

Between the pressures of social commerce, impending legislation and overall supply chain instability, companies and their connected supply chain networks are juggling a growing number of considerations. 

Ultimately, visibility is the key to understanding and assessing the risk attached to supply chains and e-commerce solutions. With social commerce showing no signs of slowing down, brands especially those in the fashion realm need to be prepared to have oversight over their production landscapes to ensure the performance, integrity and security of their interconnected environments.